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What causes a butterfly-shaped skin rash in people with lupus?

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Quick Answer

Some lupus sufferers develop a condition called cutaneous lupus erythematosus, which causes a butterfly-shaped skin rash, as stated by the Lupus Foundation of America. The rash usually stretches across the nose and the cheeks, thus giving it the name the butterfly rash. Those with lupus tend to experience rashes on sun-exposed areas, including the legs, face, arms, ears and neck.

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What causes a butterfly-shaped skin rash in people with lupus?
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Full Answer

Also called the malar rash or acute cutaneous rash, a butterfly rash is a rash that occurs over the bridge of the nose and across the cheekbones. The rash is usually purple or red and can be flat or raised. Even though it is not painful, it can be itchy and some patients with severe butterfly rash have reported experiencing a "hot" feeling. The butterfly rash is one of the most commonly recognized symptoms of lupus.

The skin rashes can be treated by a dermatologist, a health professional who specializes in the care and treatment of skin conditions. He or she will take a tissue sample to examine the main cause of the rash. NSAIDs are usually prescribed to patients to help in the treatment of the butterfly rash. Alternative medications include olive oil, vitamin E oil and cod oil, as stated by the lupus awareness organization Molly's Fund.

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